Archives for September 2009
All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!
I’m still of the opinion that the game Rochambeau is unclutter-wonderful because it requires no equipment. If you have hands, you can play Rock, Paper, or Scissors whenever you want. You can even play it alone if you have two hands.
So, you can understand my confusion when I stumbled upon yet another unitasker related to this game. Thanks to reader Nise, we now know about the Rock, Paper, Scissors Card Game:
First, you need hands to be able to deal, hold, and play the cards. Hands that you could simply use to PLAY THE GAME. Second, you — wait, forget a second point. I think the first point about HANDS says it all.
- Unclog your commute
The founder of RideSpring discusses how he created a company to help unclog the roads across the US.
- Hideaway sink
Better Homes and Garden has some interesting ideas for small bathrooms.
- New Eye-Fi products
The Eye-Fi memory card has been out for less than a year and noticeable improvements have been made in that time.
- Use ScrapBook for online highlighting in Firefox
Stop printing out web pages and instead take notes and highlight web pages directly in your Firefox browser.
- Reader suggestion: Install a soap dispenser in your sink
A permanent soap dispenser next to your faucet can alleviate unattractive bottles on your kitchen counter.
- Workspace of the Week: Student studio in NYC
This week’s Workspace of the Week is Powkang’s student studio in NYC. She lives in her workspace.
- Don’t go too big with your new HDTV
Most people figure that “bigger is better,” but that isn’t necessarily true for an HDTV.
Back in May, I reviewed the iPhone version of Bento, Filemaker’s personal database application. There were a couple comments asking whether Bento supported encryption and sharing, and, as of yesterday, I’m happy to say that it does.
Bento 3 was released yesterday, and they’ve added not only the ability to secure fields and share libraries over your home network—just like iTunes—but Bento integrates iPhoto so you can create personal databases that help you organize photos, iCal events, emails, Address Book contacts, spreadsheets, lists, PDFs you’ve created with your ScanSnap, and pretty much any other clutter in your digital life.
Be sure to check out the Bento Template Exchange to check out database templates other users have created, or share your own.
Bento is $49 ($29 upgrade).
On the continued topic of inspiring children to establish organized routines, the HGTV website has a helpful article on motivating and prompting kids to clean up their rooms.
From the article “Cleaning Children’s Rooms“:
Make a cleaning map for a child’s room, showing where everything is to be stored. Include items such as compact discs, shoes, books, stuffed animals and dirty laundry. Not only is this fun and educational, but the child also has no excuse about not knowing where to put away items.
How do you inspire your children to do chores? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.
(Thanks to Parenthacks for the link.)
Website LivingLocurto has a wonderful set of cards to help young children establish a morning routine. The Kid’s Morning Routine free printable cards are a simple way to help organized habits get started early:
Motivation to get rid of clutter and streamline your space can come in many forms. The September 1 issue of Woman’s Day magazine provides 12 “surprising benefits of getting organized.” Reporter Denise Schipani outlines her reasons in the article “Out with the clutter, in with the calm, the money-saving, and more.” (The article was renamed “12 Reasons to Unclutter Your Space” when it was placed online.)
From the article:
5. Tidy Your Computer
“Treat your computer desktop just as you would your desk, keeping only active files and shortcuts visible,” says Lorie Marrero, author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life. A “cluttered” computer screen is harder to look at, making you feel jumbled. Go through folders and delete what you no longer need. Archive older stuff you want to save to backup storage (a CD or external hard drive).
Check out the full article and add your own reasons to the list. You may even spot a few quotes from me in the text!
Today’s first post is a quick one. I simply want to direct you to a fun feature that ran last week over on Lifehacker: “Nine Workspaces Where Famous Folks Get Stuff Done.”
We’ve shown Al Gore‘s piled space here on Unclutterer before, but the others are new to us. I especially love the video of David Allen’s desk — simple and extremely productive:
Now I’m really curious what all of these famous peoples’ assistant’s desks look like …
Go on and check out the article, and then come back here and share your reactions.
- Expensify: A new take on expense reporting
Expensify.com tracks your business expenses making expense report filing a breeze.
- Unitasker Wednesday: Onion goggles
Don’t let your eyes tear up uncontrollably again. Take control of the situation and slip on some Onion Goggles.
- 11 cheap (and free) toys from Simple Mom
In the vein of baby toy alternatives, Simple Mom has a great list of cheap and free toys for your toddler.
- Find garage organizing inspiration from Elfa, Ikea, and Sears
Out-of-the-box solutions can solve your garage organizing problems, or at least give you inspiration for how to create your own.
- Workspace of the Week: Blissful in birch
With custom-built cabinets, this home office is a tranquil paradise.
- Are the paths to your goals paved or cluttered?
It’s time to clear the clutter and get started on your goals.
- Reap the benefits of your hard work
Are you taking the time to enjoy the benefits of your organizing and productivity efforts?
- Cable clutter
Here’s a quick Unclutterer video tip to help you tackle cable clutter under a media center. All it takes is a simple multi-hook rack and a little imagination.
- Reader suggestions: More ways to cure cable clutter
Great suggestions from readers on how to contain the cable clutter that plagues all of us.
- Acquiring and purging moving boxes
When you move you usually spend a bunch of time tracking down boxes to transport all of your stuff.
- Sleek way to hide kitty litter box
The Kitty Washroom is certainly an uncluttered kitty potty solution.
- An argument against table cloths
If you’re worried about your dining room table getting damaged by heavy objects, a flimsy layer of cotton isn’t going to protect the wood.
- Unitasker Wednesday: The SnacDaddy
With the SnacDaddy, you pick up one of 15 wings, dip it in the sauce, eat the wing, move the sauce, put the bone in the sauce hole, and then replace the sauce. It’s so easy!
- Review: Tiny Living in NYC
Tiny Living in NYC has ideas and products to maximize your minimal space.
- What to do with your old cell phone
You can get rid of your old cell phone clutter and do something good in the process.
In the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the pesky Goldilocks is able to quickly find the bowl of porridge, chair, and semi-firm mattress that all meet her definition of just right. Granted, she has a limited set of options from which to choose, but she loves her choices so much that she is blissfully able to drift off to sleep in a den of BEARS at the end of her decision-making day.
In my life — thankfully without much threat of deadly wildlife mauling me — I struggle to find that point of just right with everything. How many pairs of jeans, shoes, spare rolls of toilet paper, rechargeable batteries, and baby bottles should I own? How much time should I spend working, socializing, sleeping, and exercising to feel my best? Is my house too small for my family’s changing needs?
Determining the just right amount of physical goods has proven to be easier than determining the less concrete attributes of life, and so I wanted to share my methods with you. The following is how I decide the perfect amount of goods for my space and my life:
- How much space can I commit to storing this type of good?
- How much space do I want to commit to storing this type of good?
- Will I use all of it before it expires and/or becomes outdated and/or my brand loyalty changes?
- Do I have enough (or too much) to get me through to my preferred cleaning schedule? (For example: Do I have enough pairs of socks to last me between laundry days? Am I putting off laundry until it gets out of control because I have too many pairs?)
- Do I need or want this item at all?
- How much time, money, and energy will I save in the future if I have more than one of these in my space?
- What will I do if I run out?
- Would having more or less of these items improve my quality of life?
Regardless of how good a deal is, I stick to this method of determining just right. What method(s) do you use? Tell us about it in the comments.
Reader Eri submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
As a recent graduate, I am stuck with a graduation gown that will definitely not be worn again (the school is changing the gown colors next year, so no luck in passing it on down). I also have my high school gown tucked away somewhere. What is the best approach to get rid of these things? Are there places that accepts gowns to remake new gowns or something else? I have found the tassel to be a small and simple ornament. And the hat? Not sure what to do with that either.
You have the traditional three options: sell it, recycle it, or throw it away.
To try and sell it, pair it with the hat and throw it up on eBay. In March or April you might find someone at a different school with the same colors who might need one on the cheap.
If you want to recycle it, I would suggest contacting a local preschool and asking if they want it. They could use it in their dress-up and imagination stashes. Local theaters might also have a need in their costume departments. If the fabric is of decent quality, you could cut it up and repurpose a little of it into a quilt or garment. Another idea might be to simply give it to a friend with kids who might enjoy using it for dress-up at home. Check out the comments for even more recycling ideas from our readers — they always have great ideas for repurposing items.
Finally, you could just throw it away. Take a photograph of it (if you don’t already have a picture of you wearing it during your graduation ceremony) and then put it in the trash. Most graduation gowns are made of extremely cheap fabric that will quickly decay.
Thank you, Eri, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Congratulations on your recent graduation!
Do you have a question relating to organizing, cleaning, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject of your e-mail as “Ask Unclutterer.” If you feel comfortable sharing images of the spaces that trouble you, let us know about them. The more information we have about your specific issue, the better.
This week’s Workspace of the Week is JVOdesign’s home studio:
These pictures showcase an amazing space. They images say more than I ever could write about them. The only thing I want to add is that JVOdesign linked to her instructions for how to make the tack wall. Thank you for such a terrific submission, JVOdesign. I would love to work in this space.
Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.
Organizing small things, specifically small things you regularly need at your fingertips, can be frustrating. Most of the pre-made organizing products for small things aren’t very attractive and/or are made exclusively for drawers.
While searching for a way to organize my son’s bath supplies, I came across an attractive organizing system that is made specifically for small things that sit out on a counter or hang on the wall. The Stash by Boon:
It’s available in white and black, and perfect for the lotions, shampoo, body wash, nail file, and dozens of other little things my son needs that I don’t use. It can easily be repurposed in the future to hold craft and office supplies or tiny toy parts if we ever move into a house with built-in bathroom storage.
In the comments section of Tuesday’s post “Asking the better question,” reader Cheryl asked:
Have you ever gotten rid of something about which you later regretted making that choice? What was it? If it’s happened more than once, what object or person or habit was most regrettably gone?
In my personal experience, the only things I’ve regretted getting rid of are things I didn’t know I was tossing. During my first major purging process, I got impatient and just wanted the clutter to be out of my life. So, without opening the lids on some of my boxes and sorting through my things, I just blindly disposed of a few boxes. Included in one of the boxes were my social security card and passport. Both items were able to be replaced, but it would have been much less of a hassle had I not thrown them away in the first place. Rushing through the process is what led to my regrets.
Otherwise, I’ve never regretted getting rid of something. In fact, I’ve always felt better about getting rid of the clutter than I have felt about any of the things I’ve purged.
A couple people responded to Cheryl’s questions in Tuesday’s comments, and I’m interested in reading even more people’s responses here. Have you ever regretted getting rid of something? I think this is a wonderful question to ask. Tell us about your experiences in the comments.
All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!
We believed the Butter Cutter was quite the ridiculous unitasker when we featured it back in October of 2007. Little did we know that there were even larger and messier competitors in the non-knife butter cutting market. Behold the Gourmet Butter Mate and the One Click Butter Cutter:
I am 100 percent serious when I say that I don’t understand why someone would prefer to use one of these devices instead of a knife. A knife is relatively small, dishwasher safe, and can be used to cut hundreds upon hundreds of things. Neither of these devices can be used to cut anything other than butter and they’re huge and made up of many plastic parts and complete overkill and … well, you get the picture.
In comparison, these two devices make the original Butter Cutter we featured feel much less like a unitasker.
Keeping track of how you spend your time is a necessity when you’re billing segments of your workday to multiple clients, but it’s also valuable for determining your efficiency and productivity. Lifehacker recently reviewed and rated the Five Best Time-Tracking Applications and awarded Klok (free and usable on all platforms) as the top application:
Built with Adobe AIR, Klok is a lightweight and cross-platform tracking solution. You can create a hierarchy of projects and sub-projects in the task-management sidebar and then track the time spent on each by dragging and dropping them into the workflow for the day. While you can delve into the details of each block of time, simple adjustments like expanding the amount of time you’ve worked on a project is as easy as grabbing the edge of the block with your mouse and tugging it down.
Also on their list are Manic Time (Windows), SlimTimer (web-based), RescueTime (Windows and Mac), and Project Hamster (Linux). All five of the applications mentioned in the article are free to access or download.
If you haven’t tracked your time before, I recommend keeping records for at least two weeks to see how you spend your time. The data you will acquire will give you insight into your most productive hours of the day, your low-performance times, when people tend to interrupt you, and how much time you waste during an average day. Then, you can start to tweak your work habits to get the most out of your time in the office.